A new crisis counseling hotline funded by a $1.6 million federal grant is now available to help Montanans who may be struggling with their mental health due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Administrator of the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division at the Montana Department of Health and Human Services Zoe Barnard has details of the program.

“This particular grant is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster response for Montana,” said Barnard. “The crisis counseling program is one of the options that a governor can choose when making a gubernatorial disaster declaration for the state. As a result of Governor Bullock’s disaster declaration, Montana was able to apply for crisis counseling for the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Barnard said the outpatient counseling is available throughout the state.

“It is a non clinical, but trained counseling program where folks can call a hotline and talk to people who can connect them to resources, listen without judgment, and help them walk through many of the normal feelings that people can have during a disaster,” she said.

Barnard said healthcare workers can be especially hard hit during the pandemic and may need counseling.

“One of the groups that we are targeting is health care workers,” she said. “We know that health care workers are exhausted. They have been working around the clock. They have witnessed a lot of deaths, and that takes its toll. So that would be an extreme example of what people might call about.”

Barnard provided the numbers for anyone in the state of access the Crisis Counseling Hotlines.

“I want people to know that the Montana Crisis Recovery Hotline can be reached at 1-877-503-0833, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. However, if someone is having an acute mental health crisis, they should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Most of those calls are answered in Montana by Montana counselors and that number can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. That's one 800-273-TALK.

There is also a crisis text line available 24/7 by texting MT to 741 741.


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